Sometimes, it’s just nice to get away from it all. Away from the loud noises, crowded streets, and rows of cubicles that are the big city and get back to nature; and camping is probably one of the best ways to do this. Camping makes for such a great family vacation because it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment nor a large investment to find a suitable camping spot. However, considering how close it can bring a person to nature, it isn’t an activity that should be performed on a whim by the inexperienced. While normally a safe and fun way to spend more time with the family, there are certain words of wisdom that every camper can follow to ensure they have as safe and fun an experience as possible. Below are just some of the most basic pieces of advice that the beginning camper can put to use whether they’re planning a one day camping experience or a full on excursion for several weeks on end.
Get the Right Gear
Make sure that you have all the gear you’ll want on your camping trip with you when you go. Unlike regular vacations where incidentals can be bought along the way, the point of going on a camping trip is to be away from the rest of civilization, which means that finding a place pick up a last minute item can be more hassle than not. Among the basics are a tent, sleeping bags, food, water, cold and rain gear. Usually preferred, especially by first time campers and those who don’t want to get too close to nature, are sleeping pads, which provide a cushion and insulation beneath sleeping bags. We recommend Outdoor World for great gear.
Know Where You’re Going
You won’t want to get caught in a new camping spot without knowing the layout of the surrounding area. Do plenty of web research and find out how big the camping area is, how many people each spot can accommodate, what resources will be available at the camping spot, and where the location of the nearest town or shopping center is.
Plan on Cooking Camp Style
Most camping food is sold in freeze dried packets that can be heated with minimal equipment. A cooler packed with ice is good for packing cold drinks and sandwiches, but this is really only recommended for shorter camping trips. Unless, of course, the campground where you’ll be visiting is equipped with an ice machine; in which case, bring all the perishables you want. Just make sure to replenish ice when your supply starts to melt. To be on the safe side, call the campground a day or two before arrival and inquire as to the condition of the ice machine. It would be a shame to count on having one only to find out that it’s out of service. Also, if you plan on cooking over an open flame, remember that you’re in the great outdoors. Only use authorized bbq/campfire areas to start a fire; and never EVER cook in a tent – at all!
Know the Rules of your camping Grounds
Campgrounds are owned and operated by different entities that may have different rules as to what can and cannot occur on the grounds. There are basically two types of campgrounds; public or private. Public sites are typically funded by tax revenue and government grants, but even then the rules can change from park to park. For example, A county campsite might have far different rules than a state or federal campsite; and violation of those rules can have far reaching consequences from fines to arrest and prosecution. The other type of campsite is private. These are grounds established as private businesses and are maintained from revenue generated by your fellow campers. While violating a private campe rule may not lead to a fine or arrest, it can result in your removal from the site, which is a quick way to put a damper on a family camping trip. If in doubt, find out. Don’t assume that it will be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission when it comes to camping on public or private land. Know the rules before you go so you know exactly what is and is not allowed; otherwise you could have an angry Ranger or campsite manager to explain yourself to.
Always Check In
Even though you’ll be outdoors, you still have to check in when you arrive. Most campsites will have signs directing you to the check in office when you pull onto their property. This is where you’ll be assigned a camping area (if necessary) and sign any waivers the property owner requires. This process might not always be necessary on public land, but it’s good to pay attention to the signs if they’re seen. If an attendant is on duty and a camping spot is to be assigned, be sure to make the attendant aware of your location preferences. For example, you could ask for a site near the showers and bathroom or near the camp fishing hole.
Stay High and Dry
When you get to your campsite, be sure to establish your tent on high, level ground. In case of rain, water will flow away from your tent, instead of toward it. The level ground will make sure you don’t roll downhill while you sleep, which is never a good way to wake up.
Most campsites have clearly defined quiet hours. These are set in place to protect others, and yourself, from noise nuisance. Remember that people go camping, among other things, to get away from the noise of the city and won’t appreciate efforts of other campers to bring the noise with them.
Don’t Touch or Tempt the Wildlife
The reason they’re called wildlife is because they’re wild; i.e., unpredictable. Don’t ever touch or attempt to interact with wildlife while camping as you can never be sure what kind of demeanor an animal will have toward human strangers. Also, don’t tempt wildlife by leaving food out in the open or unattended.
Clean Up After Yourself
Part of the beauty of nature is just that; it’s beauty. Don’t ruin it by being a litterbug. Not only does this ruin the landscape, but it’s bad for the environment. Pieces of trash not safe for consumption can cause injury or death to local wildlife, further damaging the ecosystem in place. Don’t assume that just because something is “biodegradable” that it won’t cause injury to one of Mother nature’s critters. Even unlit cigarette butts can leak toxic substances into the ground and soil. Always use proper trash bins and designated garbage areas to dispose of your camp waste throughout your camping trip. Finally, at the end of your stay at a campsite, conduct a final walkthrough of the area you used for any missed garbage.